(Tim: this is fourth in a series of posts [one, two, three, four, five, six, seven] responding to to InterVarsity Christian Fellowship's promotion of sodomy at a Indiana University campus forum they sponsored the evening of Monday, March 28, 2011.)
“The unique Divine inspiration, entire trustworthiness and authority of the Bible.” - InterVarsity’s Doctrinal Basis
Sola Scriptura is a cornerstone of Protestantism. From the beginning, Protestants have objected to the idea that we can know God and what He commands from any source other than His divinely revealed Word. As the Westminster Confession puts it: “The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture” I.10
Of the many things that were wrong with the event “Jesus and the end of Homophobia” hosted by Indiana University’s InterVarsity chapter, the most disturbing was the silencing of God’s Word. As a Protestant, Evangelical organization, InterVarsity is supposed to be committed to the Bible. It is supposed to be committed to the Bible because it is in the Bible that God speaks to us most clearly. If we have a question about Who God is and what He requires of us, the Bible is where Protestants turn for the answer.
But that is not what happened at last week’s event. Last week, InterVarsity sponsored an event where the Bible was not allowed into the discussion. God was not allowed to speak through His Word...
During a Q & A session at the end of the talk, a student asked a question that was based on the Bible. The question specifically asked the speaker how he dealt with the Bible’s clear condemnation of homosexuality. The speaker responded
by saying that he couldn’t answer the question. As part of the ground rules for the talk he was not allowed to deal with matters of “theology.” The words of Jesus were not acceptable as part of a discussion of “Jesus and the end of Homophobia.”
Inviting a speaker who will be edgy (or perhaps even out of accord with what the organization believes--and perhaps even gravely wicked) is not necessarily wrong. Skeptic societies can invite Christians to argue for God's existence and Christian groups can invite atheists to come and give a talk. So I can see a place for InterVarsity to invite some speakers who are pretty out there.
But, what I cannot comprehend is the idea of InterVarsity hosting an event, inviting a speaker, having a Q & A, and then declaring that the Bible is off-limits for discussion. InterVarsity believes that the Bible is authoritative, has unique divine inspiration, and is entirely trustworthy. That an InterVarsity sponsored event could be held that expressly did not want the Bible to be brought up is horrifying. That this event could be called "Jesus and the end of Homophobia" and yet explicitly exclude the words that Jesus said and the things that Jesus taught is horrifying. IU’s Religious Studies department would never participate in an event on Jesus and homophobia where the Bible was not allowed to be used, but InterVarsity Christian Fellowship did.
Apart from the other ways that this event was wicked, it cut off the best recourse for students who love Jesus: the Word that Jesus has given to us. Students who recognized the gulf between the speaker and the Bible were not even allowed to raise the question. Even when InterVarsity does everything else wrong, we can wish that it would do this right.
I can remember back to the summer of 2002 when I spent a month at Cedar Campus in Michigan attending the School of Leadership Training
. SLT is a month-long leadership training camp for college students. It is the most in-depth student training that InterVarsity does. There was a night during the third week that they had a one hour panel discussion with the title "Women and the Spiritual Gifts" or something like that. The primary purpose of the hour was to argue that the Spirit gives gifts to all believers, that all the gifts are given to both women and men, and hence that it was fine for women to teach men, be in positions of authority, be pastors, etc. It was not a 50-50 debate; all of the panelists were agreed on the issue. It was a straightforward theological argument for Evangelical Feminism.
There was a Q & A time at the end and I was the only person in the audience who raised a dissenting voice. I did so with the Word of God. I asked a question about 1 Timothy 2 where Paul says that the reason women are not supposed to teach or exercise authority over men is that Adam was created first. I raised the point that Paul grounds his command in the order of creation, not in anything having to do with cultural circumstances. So, I asked, might there be a basis for prohibiting women in authority because of the way man was created rather than because of a cultural particularity of the Ancient Near East. The answer? No, it is still cultural. Paul’s instruction was for that time and place, not for every time and place. The answer was an obvious cop-out and a failure to seriously grapple with the text of Scripture. I do not know if a single person there was at all moved by my question. But, I do know that I was free to ask it, and free to use the Bible to try to influence the thought of those who were present, and that the speakers felt an obligation to at least answer the question.
From the published reports of last week's event (one, two, three, four, and five)
, faithful students were not even permitted to use God's Word to bring God's truth to light. The thoughts of men were not brought before the judgment of the Word of God. The Bible was emphatically not treated as authoritative, divinely inspired, or uniquely trustworthy.